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Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus that lives in soil that contains large amounts of bird or bat droppings. The fungus is frequently found in the Midwest, particularly in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. Children get histoplasmosis by breathing in the fungus that becomes airborne when soil is disturbed near construction sites, farmland, barns, silos and old homes.
Histoplasmosis is not contagious from person to person. Healthy children who breathe in the fungus at low levels do not get sick or may only have a cough or fever. Most children get better without medicine.
For infants and young children who have weakened immune systems or chronic lung disease, the infection can be serious.
Children at high risk for infections may have symptoms that include:
Histoplasmosis can be hard to diagnose. Your child’s doctor will get a complete health history, ask questions about possible exposure to the fungus and do a complete physical exam.
Doctors at Riley at IU Health may perform the following tests to diagnose histoplasmosis:
Depending on your child’s immune system and the severity of the infection, treatment may last from three months to one year. If your child has mild symptoms, he or she may not need treatment. If symptoms get worse, your child may need an antifungal medicine.
If your child has a weakened immune system and the disease spreads to other parts of the body, the doctor will monitor the fungus antigens and give antifungal medicine either as a pill or liquid or through a vein for many months.
To learn more about histoplasmosis, please visit these trusted resources.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The CDC provides information about histoplasmosis prevention, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
This government website provides information about histoplasmosis prognosis, complications and prevention.